Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Prepare for Your Golden Years

Dispense with Denial – Anyone who lives long enough eventually gets old. If you live long enough, you will too. Embrace this fact as a part of life and plan for it as best as you can.

Take Care of Your Health – Be proactive when it comes to your health. Eat right and get enough exercise. Maintain a healthy weight. Don’t put off treating minor health concerns. Those little problems that are a mere annoyance now can become debilitating if ignored. Work with your doctor to preserve your health and mobility. And if your doctor isn’t working with you, find one who will.

Explore Your Options – Where will you live if you need help with daily tasks? While we may all want to stay independently in our own homes and then die peacefully in our sleep after a long and fulfilling life, it does not always work out that way. Do you have younger family members with the time, interest and stamina to provide assistance on an ongoing basis? Would you prefer a nice facility with people close to your age and around-the-clock staff? The time to explore your options and make some plans is well before you have the need.

Consider Whether to Buy Long-term Care Insurance – Quality care is expensive. (For that matter, I guess crappy care is expensive, too.) According to AARP, about 7 million Americans receive some type of long-term care each year. Do you need long-term care insurance? That depends on a number of factors but the longer you wait, the more expensive it is. Will I buy it? I don’t know yet. It seems I read somewhere that the optimal time to purchase a policy is around age 60 so I’ve got a few years yet. I could buy a basic policy right now for under $40/month. If I were currently 60, the monthly price would be just over $52, however.

Another interesting fact for those on a budget (who isn’t?): “If cost is a concern, choose a Total Coverage Amount that should last about three years. In 9 out of 10 cases, a 2005 actuarial study shows that long-term care claims are lasting three years or less.” (Long Term Care Claims, A Special Report, Milliman Consultants and Actuaries, April 2005)

Learn to Play Cards – Years ago my daughter’s Brownie Troop adopted grandparents at the local convalescent home. For several years we made weekly visits to see May, a delightful lady who taught us to play Skip-Bo. We have many happy memories of playing cards with May and I realized that cards are the perfect pastime for the elderly. Not only does playing cards help keep your mind nimble, it requires no special skill, physical prowess or agility. And you can enjoy a game of cards with just about anyone of any age. Talk about a fun social activity that spans the generations!